SHANE Rampling and Brad McManus might have grown up together in Bingara but they won’t be recalling old memories around 6pm today at Kitchener Park, Gunnedah.
Rampling is the coach of the Gunnedah Bulldogs and McManus the coach of the North Tamworth Bulldogs.
The two sides are unbeaten so far this Group 4 first grade season with four wins apiece.
“Yeah, we grew up together in Bingara,” McManus said this week.
“He was a bit older than me.”
That will count for little until after tonight’s match under the Kitchener Park lights, he said.
Rampling recalled some great times growing up in Bingara.
“Brad was a little younger than us but we all grew up together and went to school together,” Rampling said.
Since then, he’s been to England and back playing football and now coaching the resurgent Bulldogs.
Despite a long injury list, the Bulldogs have remained unbeaten, showing plenty of courage to come from behind to beat reigning premiers West Lions at Kitchener Park last Saturday.
The Bulldogs went in with half a dozen or more first grade stars unavailable for that game.
“Nothing’s changed,” Rampling said .
“We had a couple more guys pull up sore after last Saturday’s win and we’ll assess them tonight.
“We might get Trent (Hilton) back but we’ll see how he pulls up after training as well.”
Rampling is in his first season at the Bulldogs and had a bit of luck with some close games going his way.
“We’ve changed a few things and the boys have bought into it,” he said.
“We’re slowly building.
“We’ve got a good bunch of young kids.
“We do have some good first grade players out but the pressure will be on them to work their way back in when they come back.
“This has been good experience for these young kids. I couldn’t be happier with them.
“Just as long as they go out and compete against North – it would be a bonus if we win.”
Rampling said Norths was “deserving favourite” after winning the Group 4 Knockout.
“Their more experienced players present an extra tough hurdle,” he said.
“We’re the underdogs but we want to give them a good game, compete.
“And if things go our way we might be able to cause an upset,” Rampling added.
McManus is looking forward to locking horns with his old Bingara mate.
He’s also welcoming back former coach Shaun Ferguson and Ky Rurul.
“They make the pack stronger,” he said.
He’s also hopeful Marshall Barker will be able to back up from the Greater Northern Tigers Country Championship clash with Western Rams at Singleton today.
“He’ll be back at some stage,” McManus said.
“He’ll start off the bench.
“Hopefully he pulls through okay because Western won’t be easy.”
He knows Gunnedah has had a horror run with injury and has no idea of just who they will send out to face his Bears.
“I don’t what they’ve got but they’ll go all right with Shane running them.”
He expects props Bill Jeffery and Jake Cocking to spearhead the Bears tonight after both had “massive” games at Narrabri last Sunday.
Group 4 continues at Scully Park tomorrow with a big double header between Oxley Diggers-Narrabri and West Lions-Wee Waa starting at 9am with a Ladies League Tag.
The Diggers-Blues game is scheduled for a 2pm kickoff with the West Lions and Wee Waa Panthers kicking off about 3.30pm.